(2003 to 2005)


Thu Apr 22 18:57:00 UTC+1000 2004


I just had an ah-ha moment, that I actually had some time ago but was too delerious at the time to verbalise.

Some time ago, I posted a comment that said something along the lines of Orwell was wrong, but I couldn't remember why.

Well it came to me this evening, at least something did, and I suspect this is it.

See Orwell coined the term doublethink, but he also described a language, Newspeak. His language really wasn't that amazing, it was basically a constrained version of English. The thing was he explained how this constrained version of English, Newspeak, was designed to fundamentally repress people.

Uh-oh, thinking lots of things, getting them down quick:

English loads words, they have more than one meaning. Existing words are picked to describe new concepts, adding or altering language.

There are many words to express the same concept.

This is the breeding ground for double think. Doublethink is the failing of logic in a human mind.

Further our language has sarcasm.

We don't have a language that liberates people at all. Nor do we have a language that facilitates clear communication.

I frequently realise that even when I have a conversation with someone where all the language indicates that we understand each other, that we in fact do not.

People regularly fail to understand me, because they don't understand the language that I have implicitly asserted.

By simplifing and heavily constraining language we would facilitate a clear and regular exchange of concepts. I don't actually beleive this entirely, but we'd be doing far better than we do with English.

Regularly people exploit language features such as uncommon words, metaphor, irony, etc. that have a tendancy to cause communication to fail.

It kind of feels like a conspiracy theory in and of itself, that we would have a deliberately vague language. It is not a 'rich' language, because of the way it is used. Perhaps such a language is useful for some reason, facilitating understanding to be found through an 'accident' of communication, this might be particularly true of a system that learns in the same way that the human brain does.

I think of computer systems and how they communicate. Protocol is very important to transfer meaningful information. If the language is complex even the people who know it as a first-language may fail in their usage of it. Failure in the usage of language implicitly leads to a failure in communication.

Anyway, those are my few random thoughts for the evening, I know I didn't express them very well, but at least I know what I mean.


Copyright © 2003-2005 John Elliot